Wish List – A Christmas Homily


Wish List – A Christmas Homily

When I was young I never made a Christmas Wish List.  Instead, several weeks before Christmas my mother would ask, “What’s the best one thing that you want for Christmas?”  And, invariably that best one thing would be under the tree Christmas morning, although it may not have been out in the open.

That’s because Christmas was also the time for receiving the things my mother knew we needed, but wouldn’t ask for, like new sox, a pair of pants, or a nice shirt to wear to church on Sundays.  My mother also knew that we wouldn’t be overly thrilled with that nice shirt, so it was usually in one of those boxes that she also included what we really wanted.  Like the time that the camping hatchet I asked for was hidden under a pair of new corduroy pants.  Yes, there really was a time when responsible parents actually gave little boys dangerous things like hatchets and bb guns.  And it was ok, because those little boys knew all too well that if those types of gifts weren’t used properly and safely that they would be gone and not replaced.

My mother though, only asked for things she needed; I remember the very first Christmas present that I bought her with money I saved from shoveling the neighbor’s driveway.  It was a set of six frosted glass drinking glasses.  I bought them because that’s what she said she needed.  She sure seemed pleased when she unwrapped them.  Only once did she tell me what she really wanted. 

My mother had been battling cancer for over five years.  She had endured several operations and several rounds of chemo.  Each operation was hoped to be the last.  Each chemo treatment was hoped to finally provide the cure.

In December of 1979 she had her last operation.  I stopped by her hospital room on my way home from St Norbert College.  I stopped in the doorway because her eyes were closed.  I didn’t want to disturb her rest.  Just when I decided to back out and let her sleep, she opened her eyes, smiled at me and patted a spot next to her on the bed. 

She wanted to know how my exam had gone as she knew that I had semester finals in a couple of my classes that day.  She also wanted to be assured that I had verified with the registrar that I was all set to finish at the end of the semester.  There was no mid-year graduation at St Norbert, but my classes would be finished a half year early nonetheless.  She told me that there was some hamburger thawed in the refrigerator and that I should make supper for my dad and I when I got home. 

Finally, I asked her how she felt since she hadn’t said anything about herself the entire visit.  She squeezed my hand, looked me in the eye and said, “Danny, I was so disappointed when I opened my eyes after the operation.  I so wanted to see Heaven; I really didn’t want to see my hospital room.”

A couple of weeks later, on Christmas Eve, just about exactly this same time, my mother got her Christmas wish.  She received what she most desired.  She got to spend Christmas in Heaven, all because our God is all love, he is all mercy, he is all giving.  It is on Christmas that we celebrate the reality that Emmanuel, God with us, came to us as one of us so that we could experience the depth of the Father’s love, the humbleness of the Son and the peace of the Holy Spirit. 

We all need God’s love.  We all need God’s mercy.  He did this all because as Jesus assured us, God knows what we need before we even ask for it.  And, in the Christ Child, the Father provided for our every spiritual need.

But the question left to each of us to ponder, to consider deeply, to pray for discernment about, the question that each of us must answer, when Jesus asks, “What’s the very best one thing that you want for Christmas?”

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy 
that will be for all the people.  For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

His Peace <><

Merry Christmas,

Deacon Dan

Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash